A/N: Once more, thank you for all the great reviews. I really appreciate them.
Batman & Benson
Olivia stared in terror as the cable, weakened by the blast of acid that the Penguin sprayed on it, let out an audible groan as it began to snap. The captured women all screamed, horrified, as the cage they were in abruptly jolted from the shock of the cable rapidly losing its strength. The cage now hung barely three feet above the water.
As the Penguin waddled away, his taunting laughter echoing off the walls, Batman raised his right wrist to his mouth and said, "Come here."
Just then the Batplane smashed its way through the row of massive windows along the top of the wall at the far end of the room.
'Jeez, even his damn vehicles know how to make a grand entrance,' Olivia thought, amazed.
"Um, I don't think there's anybody flying that thing," Alex said timidly.
The Batplane came over to the edge of the platform, where it hovered, dipping down on one side and the cockpit canopy popping open.
"You two stay here," Batman said, as he dived off the platform and onto the wing of the Batplane. Once Batman got into the cockpit and sealed the canopy, the Batplane flew over the hanging cage, where a grappling hook shot out from underneath the plane's fuselage, grabbing the cage just as the steel cable finally snapped.
The turbine engines of the Batplane began to whine with the strain of the cage that swung underneath it as Batman fought to keep it under control.
Alex tapped Olivia's shoulder and pointed at the Penguin, who was slipping through a doorway just below the platform they stood on. "Look, he's getting away!"
"No he's not," Olivia said angrily, as she ran down the steps after the Penguin. When she saw that Alex followed her, she said, "Stay here!"
"The hell I am!" Alex shot back. "I'm not letting you out of my sight this time!"
Olivia groaned inwardly. She knew better than to argue with Alex whenever she made up her mind.
The doorway that the Penguin had ducked into turned out to be a maze of narrow passageways with twists and turns every few feet. Yet it wasn't hard to keep track of the Penguin, who grunted and groaned so loud as he ran it almost sounded like Olivia was giving chase to a water buffalo in heat.
The Penguin led the women to a small pier that overlooked another section of the canal. There was a powerboat moored to the dock, and the bow of the boat was shaped into the head of a penguin. This vessel was obviously for the Penguin's escape.
'This guy's really got it bad with the bird motif doesn't he?' Olivia thought. 'Huang would probably have a field day with him.'
The Penguin, not knowing Olivia and Alex were standing behind him, threw his umbrella into the boat ahead of him and began the arduous task of climbing into the powerboat.
"All right," Olivia told Alex. "Now."
She ran up to the boat and tackled the little man from behind. The Penguin began to screech and struggle, but Olivia was actually too big for him to put up much of a fight against.
'Now I know why this moron's got so much hired muscle,' Olivia realized, as she effortlessly pushed the Penguin down on the deck. 'Because when it comes to a stand up fight, he's a real wimp!'
When Alex came over to help, Olivia said, "Wait, get his umbrella from the boat."
Alex did a double take when she knelt down on the dock before the powerboat. "Which one? He's got about a dozen in here."
"Any one is fine," Olivia told her. When Alex handed her an umbrella, Olivia held it up and sarcastically said, "Gee, I wonder what this umbrella does? Does it shoot gas? Eject a knife? Or shoots acid?" She then shoved the tip of the umbrella right up against the Penguin's head and added, "Oh, wait, I know how to find out: I'll just press this little trigger back here and see what it does to your face!"
"Arrrr! No!" the Penguin cried, holding up his hands. "That's the machine gun umbrella! You'll shoot my head off!"
"I guess you'd better behave yourself then, or else I WILL blow your frigging head off," Olivia growled at him. "Now get up and start walking back inside with your hands up!"
Penguin glared at her, yet he obediently got to his feet and waddled back inside, his hands held up, with Olivia following close behind, aiming the umbrella at his back.
"You realize you've just made an arrest using an umbrella as a weapon?" Alex whispered into her ear.
"Well, this is Gotham City," Olivia said. "And you know the old saying, 'When in Rome…'"
"'...do as the Romans do,'" Alex said with a smile.
When they reentered the main loading area, Olivia was pleased to see the Batplane had managed to safely transport the cage filled with girls over to the solid concrete floor. Once the cage touched down safely, the Batplane released the grappling hook.
Just then the SWAT team of the Gotham City Police swarmed into the loading area, their guns drawn. Olivia had just handed over custody of the Penguin to one of the swat team members when she noticed something. Harvey Bullock was at the lead of one of the teams. He glared at the Batplane as it veered off and headed for the smashed windows.
"Damned Bat-freak!" Bullock shouted, as he pulled his gun out and fired at the Batplane.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Olivia screamed, as she raced towards Bullock. When she tackled him, it was like tackling a mountain. "DON'T SHOOT AT HIM, YOU FRIGGING IDIOT!"
"What the…Benson!" Bullock said, staring at her as if she were insane. "What's wrong with you?"
Olivia was relieved to see the Batplane fly safely through the smashed out windows and into the night sky. She pointed after the plane and said, "That man is a hero!"
"He's a vigilante freak!" Bullock said.
"And you're a flaming moron!" Olivia shouted right into his face.
Bullock simply smiled at her as he removed a police radio from his pocket. "The NYPD Princess is safe," he said smugly into the radio. "I say again: the NYPD Princess is safe and sound."
"Who are you calling a princess, you son of a—" Olivia growled, as she went to grab Bullock again.
Alex, who firmly grabbed her arm, stopped Olivia in her tracks. "Liv, take it easy. We're all on the same side here."
"So is the Batman," Olivia told her. "But nobody around here seems to realize that."
"You're saying he didn't kidnap you?" Bullock asked her.
"Of course not!" Olivia said. She smiled when Commissioner Gordon made his way through the crowd of SWAT team members and paramedics towards them. Detective Montoya was with him. "Commissioner, I'm glad to see you, sir."
"And I'm very glad to see you, Detective Benson," Gordon said, grinning. "Are you all right?"
Before Olivia could answer, Bullock said, "I think she's suffering from that Swedish Syndrome, Commish. Y'know, the one Patty Hearst had, where she bonded with her captors?"
"It's called Stockholm Syndrome," Alex corrected him. "And no, she doesn't have it. I can also testify that had it not been for the Batman's efforts, none of us would be standing here right now."
"Good to see you, as well, Nora," Gordon said, looking relieved.
"Thanks Jim," Alex said. "There are more of Penguin's men upstairs."
Montoya stood holding her police radio to her ear. "SWAT Team One and Two are up there now, moping up," she confirmed. "Commissioner, they've found several machine gun nests up there! The guns were primed and ready, aimed at the parking lots…at us! But the guns have been taken out of action, their crews all knocked out cold."
"The Batman took them out," Olivia told them. "Al—uh, Nora and I watched him take down one of the machine gun crew ourselves. The news has been saying that Batman kidnapped me, Commissioner—but it was actually the Penguin who abducted me! The Batman saved my life tonight. He saved all of our lives."
Gordon eyed her somberly for a second, and then he reached out and patted her shoulder. "Take it easy, Detective. Things will get sorted out in good time." He glanced back at something, and then added, "There are some people here who would like to see you."
When Olivia looked at where Gordon gestured, she saw Captain Cragen, Munch, Fin and Elliot standing there. Elliot came over to her and gave Olivia a tight hug. "You all right?" he asked, checking her over. "You're not hurt?"
"I'm fine, El," Olivia said. She smiled at Cragen, Munch and Fin, who all appeared just as anxious as Elliot. "It's been a helluva night, but I'm ok."
"Yeah, well, when I told you to go enjoy a night on the town I didn't think you'd take it this far!" Elliot jokingly said. "Jesus, Liv!"
That made Olivia burst into laughter. "Jeez, it's really great to see you guys again."
"You had us all very worried, Olivia," Cragen said. "We're glad to see that you're—"
Cragen ceased talking as he, Elliot, Munch and Fin all stared in disbelief at something over Olivia's shoulder.
Alex smiled shyly at them as she came up alongside Olivia. "Hey guys."
"Everybody, meet Nora Bradshaw," Olivia said, as she introduced Alex's undercover name.
"Nora, uh?" Elliot said, breaking into a smile. "Yeah, right. C'mere, Nora."
Alex let out a laugh as Elliot gave her a hug. Cragen also hugged her as well.
Munch grabbed Olivia's arm and frantically said, "You actually spent the night with the Batman!"
Olivia stared at him, flabbergasted. Several of the Gotham City police officers that stood around them paused to give Olivia strange looks.
Fin rolled his eyes in disgust. "John, man, you're making it sound like she slept with him!"
"Sorry, sorry, my bad," Munch said quickly. "But I overheard you saying that he saved your life, is that true?"
"Yes, Munch, it is," Olivia said patiently. "And he's not a vampire, nor is he an escapee from Area 51, or anything like that. Batman's not a threat to anybody. He's a force for good."
"He is indeed a force for good," Alex concurred. "But I still wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley."
"Arrrrr! Arrrrr!" the Penguin growled, as he was cuffed by two Gotham City police officers. The Penguin's body was so wide that his wrists were secured by two pairs of handcuffs. He angrily glared at Olivia and Alex as he was being led away.
"Now he looks like he's an escapee from Area 51," Fin said, as he stared after the Penguin with wide eyes.
"Detective Benson," Gordon said, as he came over to them. "The paramedics are taking the women to the hospital. They would like you and Nora to join them."
"I'm fine," Olivia told him. "I don't need any medical attention."
"I don't need a check up, either," Alex said, "but I'll ride with them to the hospital, anyway."
"Good," Gordon said. "Because several of the women have been asking for you. Your presence will help keep them calm."
"As long as I have you, Liv," Munch said, "you can answer some questions for me about the Batman. Now I heard a theory that he is actually part of a prototype program to test military weapons for use in law enforcement--which, in essence, makes the Batman a part of the military-industrial conspiracy to supress the common people. What do you think about...hey, Liv?"
Olivia abruptly threw her hands in his face and chased after Alex and Gordon. "You know what? I think I will take a ride to the hospital with you after all!"
"You just can't give it a rest, can you, John?" Fin said in annoyance.
"Oh yeah, right!" Munch cried. "It's my fault again, right? Well, is it my fault that nobody wants to hear the truth!"
Olivia awoke with a start.
She quickly glanced around her bedroom, and was fearfully startled when she saw that it wasn't her apartment--then Olivia relaxed when she realized that she was still in her hotel room in Gotham City.
Alex was curled up in bed next to her, sound asleep. 'Was it Alex who woke me?' Olivia wondered. 'It's been a while since I've slept in the same bed with anyone.'
But her cop instinct was fairly ringing with anxiety. There was something wrong, something out of place. And because of this instinct, which she trusted with her life, Olivia found that she couldn't get back to sleep. She quickly slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb the still-sleeping Alex. Barefoot, she was clad only in her pajamas, which consisted of an extra-large dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Olivia removed her Glock from its holster and gave the hotel suite a quick sweep. There was nothing out of place that she could see. The door was locked, as were the windows.
When she walked past the glass sliding door that led out to the patio, Olivia paused.
'Might as well be thorough,' Olivia thought, as she opened the sliding door and stepped out onto the patio. The night was cool, but still not uncomfortable for Olivia in her scant outfit. She quickly gazed around, keeping the Glock handy, until she glanced up at the row of stone gargoyles along the top of the roof.
One of the gargoyles stood up and regarded her silently.
Olivia burst into a broad smile. "Hey," she said, lowering the gun. "I didn't think I would see you again."
The Batman leapt from the roof and deftly landed on the concrete floor in front of her. "I have something to give you," he said, holding out a tube filled with liquid. "It's the antidote for the Scarecrow's toxin. You can give this to the doctors at Arkham Asylum tomorrow. It will cure Annabelle Justino of her affliction."
"That's great," Olivia said, as she accepted the antidote. "Thanks. And I mean that: thanks for everything."
"I owe you a lot as well," Batman said. "You were a major part of the success in this case, Detective Benson."
"My friends call me Olivia," she said. "And my really close friends, like you, call me Liv."
"'Liv' it is, then," Batman said with a slight smile. "I understand that Nora Bradshaw has decided to stay in Gotham City."
Olivia's smiled faded at that. "Yeah, even though the Marshalls wanted her to move to a new location, she refused. Al--uh, Nora...oh, never mind! Her real name is Alex Cabot. Alex says she's tired of running, and that she's got a lot of work to do here in Gotham City."
"Gotham City could really use her," Batman said.
"I agree," Olivia said with a solemn nod. "But the problem is she's now no longer in the Witness Protection Program. Because she wouldn't move, the Marshalls kicked her out. I'll be coming down every weekend and whenever else I can to see her, but other than me, she really no longer has any protection."
"Yes, she does," Batman said. "She's has me."
"There are some heavy hitters involved," Olivia warned. "Alex used to be an ADA in New York City. She's got assassins hired by drug dealers after her."
"Let them try," Batman said in a dark whisper, "and I'll make them regret the day they were born. She'll be safe here, Liv. You have my word on that."
After seeing this man in action, Olivia could well believe he could back up his pledge. "I couldn't ask for a better protector, thank you," she said, touched. "Now that the case is over, are you taking a night off? You earned it."
"There's no rest for the wicked," Batman replied. "Turns out there's a new player in town. A cat burglar with some extraordinary skills. She just pulled her first heist last night."
"She?" Olivia said, fascinated. "It's a woman?"
Batman nodded, as he produced a black and white surveilance video photo of a woman in a skin-tight outfit. She wore a mask with cat-like ears and was laughing wildly as she swirled a bullwhip over her head. Two terrified security guards cowered from her under a table.
"What's she supposed to be, a catwoman?" Olivia asked, shaking her head, as she handed the photo back to him. "It never ends, does it? Just when you're still reeling from your last case, another perp pops up. It's relentless! I'm surprised we haven't gone insane from this constant, endless battle by now."
"But that's just it," Batman said. "Fighting the insanity is what keeps us sane."
When Olivia thought about it, she nodded. "Yeah, that makes sense."
He glanced sharply at something behind her and added, "We're not alone."
Olivia glanced back to see Alex standing timidly by the sliding glass doors. "It's all right," Olivia said. "He's just--"
Yet once she turned to gesture to the Batman, Olivia saw he was already gone.
'Damn, he's so good it's creepy,' Olivia thought.
Alex walked onto the patio with her arms folded across her chest. Like Olivia, she was also barefoot and clad only in an extra-size shirt. "You sure have weird friends Liv."
"Don't knock him," Olivia said, as she gently gave Alex a kiss, "because that weird friend of mine is your new bodyguard."
Annabelle Justino blinked her eyes as she focused on the group of people who surrounded her hospital bed. She looked for all the world like somebody who had just woken up from a deep sleep.
"What the hell is going on?" she fearfully asked, as she glanced down and saw the medical restraints on her arms and legs. "Where am I? Why am I tied up?"
"You're at Arkham Asylum," Dr. Solanna gently replied. "And there's no longer any reason to keep you restrained, dear. Gentlemen?"
Olivia smiled as two orderlies went over to the bed and removed the restraints from Annabelle's wrists and ankles. She was pleased to see the antidote worked; Annabelle looked more alert and lucid--if a little confused, which was understandable, given her circumstances.
Elliot gave her an approving nod. "Score another one for your buddy Bats," he whispered. "You were right Liv, the guy does know his stuff."
"Annabelle, do you remember anything that happened over the last week?" Dr. Quinn asked. She was a younger woman with bright blond hair and blue eyes who helped Solanna administer the antidote to Annabelle.
"No, I-I have no idea!" Annabelle said. "The last thing I remember was answering the door at my mom's house and this weird little man shooting some kind of gas into my face! I think he used an umbrella!"
"It's all right," Dr. Solanna soothed her. "You were poisoned, which led to you having a prolonged psychotic episode. But it's all over, now." She turned to Olivia, Elliot, Montoya and Bullock and added, "I'm afraid it will be some time before you can ask her any questions. Annabelle needs to rest, now."
"No problem," Montoya said, as they all moved into the hallway. "We'll visit again."
When Dr. Quinn joined them, Solanna said, "Thanks again for all the help, Harley."
"Glad to be of service, Bea," Dr. Quinn said. "And now if you'll all excuse me, I have another patient to visit."
"I'm afraid the Joker is going to be a far bigger challenge for you," Solanna warned.
Dr. Quinn smiled broadly at her. "The bigger the challenge, the better!"
"Who's the Joker?" Olivia asked, after Quinn left.
"Remember that wacked out goon in the wheelchair during your last visit?" Montoya said. "The one with the green hair? That's the Joker."
Olivia felt goose bumps sprouting up all over her skin at just the mere memory of that psychopath. "She's treating that madman! I wish her all the luck in the world, 'cause she's gonna need it!"
"That young woman is one of the most dedicated professionals I've ever had the pleasure of working with," Solanna firmly said. "If anybody can help the Joker, Harley can. Remember the name, Harley Quinn, because I have a strong feeling that one day she'll be very famous."
Once outside, while they were on their way back to the car in the parking lot, Bullock came to an abrupt halt. He stared at Olivia and said, "I've got something I been meaning to say to you, Benson."
'Here it is,' Olivia thought, bracing herself for an argument. They had hardly spoken to each other since yesterday, when Olivia tackled him after he shot at the Batman's plane. And she could tell that it had been eating at him ever since.
"What's your problem, Bullock?" Elliot said, as he stepped in-between them. "Maybe you'd like to clear the air with me instead, huh?"
"It's all right, Elliot," Olivia said. "Let him say whatever he wants."
"I just wanna say that when you attacked me like that yesterday, you were acting like a loose cannon, Benson," Bullock said. "You were letting your gut feelings get in the way of the rules and regs of the Job."
And then Bullock surprised Olivia by breaking into a broad grin. "I really liked that," he continued. "What I just wanna say is, I was wrong about you. You're all right, Benson...for an NYPD Princess."
With that, Bullock turned on his heel and strode to the car. Elliot stared after him, puzzled, while Montoya looked just as shocked as Olivia did.
"Wow! He really likes you, Olivia," Montoya said, sounding genuinely impressed. "Welcome to the club."
"Be still my heart," Olivia said sardonically, as they resumed their walk to the car.
"We believe that Oswald Cobblepott, AKA The Penguin, gassed Annabelle Justino as a means of getting her off the streets," Gotham City District Attorney Harvey Dent said, as he stood at the podium. Before him in the Gotham City Police Headquarters press room was a massive audience of members of the media, who paid close attention to every word. "When Ms. Justino fled New York City, she became a liability to her former boss, Mr. Neufeld, who wanted her dead. By shooting her with the toxin, the Penguin insured that she would be out of harm's way in Arkham Asylam, until the proper time when he could use her as leverage against Neufeld." He pointed at a reporter who raised his hand. "Yes?"
"Mike Kempt, Central City Sun," the reporter said. "Is Mr. Neufeld still at large?"
"No," Dent replied. "I'm pleased to report that Scotland Yard picked Neufeld up in London early this morning. He's being brought back to New York City the day after tomorrow. Next question?"
Olivia stood behind Dent in the crowd of people who were involved in this case. Gordon stood next to her, as well as Bullock and Montoya and ADA Rachel Dawes, who would be handling the prosecution of the Penguin for the Gotham City DA's office. Olivia had met Dawes earlier, when they went over the general case, and she outlined how Olivia would be needed for the prosecution. Dawes struck Olivia as being an extremely competent young woman. It was going to be a pleasure working with her.
As Dent continued to answer more questions, Olivia's eyes focused on one woman in the crowd of reporters. It was Summer Gleason, the TV newscaster who had reported the Batman had abducted Olivia. If looks could kill, then the steady glare that Olivia gave Gleason would have decapitated the reporter. Earlier, Gleason had asked Olivia what it was like being the helpless captive of the Batman. Olivia had passionately defended the Batman, playing up the fact that he was largely responsible for the successful outcome of this case. After listening to Olivia, Gleason then asked, "That's nice. But is it true that the Batman sleeps up-side down?"
In the riotous laughter that followed, Dent brushed Olivia aside and had taken control of the news briefing while Olivia fumed on the sidelines. Regardless of the sacrifices that Bruce Wayne had made in defending his city, that very same city continued to have a pretty low opinion of his alter-ego, the Batman. People either feared him, didn't understand him, or didn't even believe he existed. And considering that Wayne put his life on the line every single night, he deserved much more than that. If there was only some way that Olivia could get the podium back from Dent, she could at least hammer home the point that the Batman was one of the good guys.
Just then, a striking brunette stood up among the reporters and raised her hand.
Dent pointed to her. "Yes?"
"Lois Lane, Metropolis Daily Planet," she said, by way of introduction. "And my question is for Detective Benson."
'Oh yeah!' Olivia thought in triumph as she ran over to the podium. "Yes, Ms. Lane?"
"Detective Benson, your earlier comments seem to indicate that you think the Batman isn't quite the menace that some people have made him out to be," Lane said. "Would you care to elaborate?"
"Yes, I really would," Olivia said. "The Batman saved my life. When I was a captive of the Penguin, he had ordered me to be killed right on the spot, and had the Batman not intervened...well, I wouldn't be here right now."
"But wouldn't you, as a police officer, consider the Batman to be nothing more than a vigilante?" Lane asked.
"I admit that his tactics are very unorthodox," Olivia said. "But he gets the job done. And I think that, along with the Gotham City Police, Batman's contributions can be a tremendous asset to the safety of this city."
Lane nodded with a smile. "Thank you, Detective Benson."
'Thank you, Ms. Lane!' Olivia joyfully thought. 'Thank you, thank you, thank you!'
Pleased that she finally had her say, and hopefully set the record straight, Olivia happily waited on the sidelines of the press conference until it was finally over. Everybody scattered before Olivia had a chance to say goodbye. Although she would be staying in Gotham City for another day, she would not be on police business, and therefore wouldn't see everybody here until her next visit. She quickly bid goodbye to Rachel, and even to Bullock, who grumbled something to her about making sure she "stay outa trouble!"
When she saw Montoya walking down an hallway, Olivia ran after her. She caught up with Montoya just as she was getting into an elevator and they exchanged their goodbyes. "Have you seen Commisioner Gordon?" Olivia asked her. "I wanted to say goodbye to him before I left."
"He's up on the roof," Montoya said with a slight smile. "He says he goes up there to get some fresh air."
"Oh," Olivia said, as she felt her heart sink with disappointment. "I won't bother him, then."
"Actually, Liv, you should," Montoya told her. "Everybody thinks the real reason he's up there is to sneak a smoke, anyway. So, by all means, feel free to disturb him!"
As she rode up in the elevator to the roof, Olivia smiled when she recalled Gordon telling her he quit smoking. She guessed the nicotine habit was hard for him to break. 'Well, I should actually be doing him a favor by walking in on him, then,' she thought.
Once she reached the roof, she had some trouble finding Gordon at first. But then Olivia saw him as she came around the corner of an air conditioning unit. Thankfully, Gordon wasn't smoking--yet it appeared as if he was speaking to somebody, a person who remained hidden behind the AC unit.
Olivia came out from behind the unit and was so stunned at the sight she saw that her mouth dropped opened in shock.
Gordon was speaking to the Batman.
It appeared to be a casual conversation, as if these two men were old friends. Olivia stood gaping at the two of them until the Batman took notice of her. Gordon, whose back was turned to Olivia, spun around and gave her a knowing smile. Once he turned away, the Batman flung his cape wide and dove off the ledge of the building, all without making a sound.
Olivia slowly walked up to Gordon, still too stunned for words.
Gordon gestured at the Batman, then did a double take when he realized he now pointed at empty space. "Hmmph...hate it when he does that."
"You...you're working with him," Olivia said with a mixture of amazment and awe.
Gordon chuckled. "It should come as no surprise to you, detective. When we first met, I told you that I had a knack for knowing who to trust. And that I kept those whom I trusted close to me. Batman is one of those people. And you're another extremely trustworthy person as well. I'm very impressed with your handling of this case...so much so that I'm considering starting a Special Victims Unit within the Gotham City Police, and I would like for you to be involved."
Just when Olivia didn't think she could be anymore stunned than she already was, what Gordon just said nearly knocked her flat on her back. "You want me to join the Gotham City SVU?"
"No," Gordon said. "I want you to create it for me. And then I want you to run it for me as its commander. So, what do you say, Olivia?"
Olivia could only helplessly stare at him, dazed, as she once again found herself at a complete loss for words.
"Here's to us," Alex said, as she raised her glass of wine in a toast.
Olivia smiled as she raised her own glass. "To us."
After she took a sip, Olivia glanced around Romero's, the swanky Italian restuarant they were in. Located at the top of one of the tallest buildings in Gotham City, it offered a breath-taking panoramic view of the city. Olivia glanced up and saw a plane flying in the night sky, it's running lights reminding her of a moment from their past. "Oh, Alex, look! A UFO! Let's make a wish!"
Alex stared at her, dumbfounded, for a second. Then she dismally shook her head. "Oh God, Liv, I was very drunk that night. But you're never gonna let me live that down, are you?"
"Um, no," Olivia replied with a grin. "Have you made your wish, yet?"
"Yes," Alex said, growing serious. "My wish is that we never get separated again."
Olivia reached out across the table and firmly grabbed Alex's hand. "That's my wish, too, sweetie. Never again shall we be separated."
"Hope I'm not intruding," a male voice said.
Olivia looked up to see Bruce Wayne standing over their table. Dressed in a dapper black suit, he appeared to have finally decided to take a night off from being Batman. "Excuse the intrusion, but I was just on my way out when I saw you seated here, Nora."
"Bruce!" Alex said, standing up and shaking his hand. "It's good to see you. Liv, this is Bruce Wayne. He's the one I told you about earlier. He's made a very generous donation to the Southside Women's Shelter. Bruce, this is my life partner, Olivia Benson."
"How do you do?" Olivia said, pretending to be meeting Wayne for the first time.
Wayne was just as smooth. "A pleasure to meet you, Olivia. Nora's told me a lot about you."
"I only told him the good stuff, don't worry," Alex jokingly said.
Olivia felt like a fifth wheel when Bruce and Alex started talking about the details of his donation, and the fix-up projects that the money would be used for at the shelter. However, she burst into a broad smile when she saw someone familiar standing by the door. "Excuse, me," she told Alex and Bruce, "I'll be right back."
Alfred Pennyworth gave her a warm smile as Olivia walked up to him. "Hello Alfred."
"Good evening, Olivia," he said. "And how are you?"
"I'm great, thanks. You?"
"Although I find myself becoming rather busy, thanks to the approaching holiday season, I am quite well," Alfred said. "Speaking of the holidays, do you have any plans?"
"No, not really," Olivia said.
Alfred nodded. "You do now. You are invited to come spend Christmas with us at Wayne Manor. And you are most welcome to bring 'Nora' with you."
Olivia was deeply touched. "Oh, Alfred, thank you."
"I take it that's a 'yes'?" Alfred asked with a sly smile.
"Yes, of course it is. We would love to come."
Alfred leaned towards her and whispered, "Master Bruce tells me that you turned down Commisioner Gordon's offer."
"Yeah, I did," Olivia answered. "It was a very nice gesture on his part, and I appreciated it, but it didn't feel right for me. I'll still be a consultant on the side for him, though. I'll be advising him in creating the Gotham PD SVU. But I'm still with the NYPD."
"You can no more leave the NYPD than Master Bruce can cease his nocturnal activities," Alfred told her. "The world needs you right where you are, Olivia."
'Oh Jesus, what a sweetheart,' Olivia thought, deeply touched by what he said. "You know what, Alfred? There's something I've been wanting to do since I first met you."
She gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, which made him blush. "Oh my! Had I known that would be your reaction, I would have invited you to the Manor much sooner!"
They were both startled when the crowd in Romero's all let out a loud gasp at the same time. Everyone gazed out the south windows, including Alex and Bruce. Olivia noticed that there was something going on in the night sky, and when she and Alfred came up beside Alex, Olivia also let out a gasp at what she saw outside.
It was a huge spotlight that stabbed across the night sky, projecting the image of a massive black bat onto the clouds above.
"Looks like the Batman's needed again," Bruce said, as he stared hard at the bat-signal. He made a furtive glance around him, and Olivia realized that he was trying to figure out how to make a graceful exit so he could answer the call.
Yet Alfred came to the rescue. "Oh, sir, I do apologize, but it appears you have a rather urgent phone call from Mr. Fox. He said it was about the Stromberg deal?"
Bruce put on a good act of being annoyed. "Damn, that's in trouble again? Sorry ladies, but as you know, business before pleasure."
"Oh, what a shame," Alex said sadly. "I was just about to invite you to join us."
"I'll gladly take a raincheck. Did you invite them to the manor, Alfred?"
"Yes, sir. Olivia has accepted."
"Excellent. We'll see you two for Christmas, then," Bruce said.
"Oh, that's great!" Alex said excitedly. "Thanks, Bruce!"
"Not at all," Bruce replied, as he turned to leave with Alfred. "Take care, Nora, Olivia."
As he walked past Olivia, she said, in the faintest of whispers: "Be safe."
"You too, Liv," he whispered back, without breaking his stride.
"Imagine that, Christmas at Wayne Manor!" Alex said, as she and Olivia sat back down. "That sounds exciting."
'Not as half as exciting as what's underneath Wayne Manor,' Olivia thought, recalling her visit to the Batcave. She gazed out at the bat-signal and wondered who the Batman was squaring off against tonight. Whoever his opponent was this time, Olivia knew that he or she had as much chance as a snowball in hell going up against the Dark Knight.
"It looks strangely pretty," Alex said, as she stared at the bat-signal. "Like something out of a dream."
"If this moment is a dream," Olivia said, taking her hand, "then I don't ever want it to end."
They both sat there, contently holding hands, as they watched the bat-signal slowly unfurl across the clouds in the night time skies.
Author's Note: I would like to thank Batman Begins director Christopher Nolan and writer David Goyer for recreating a marvelous new vision of the Dark Knight. And the Batman Begins soundtrack, by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, is great music to write a Batman story to. Listening to the opening strains of music put me right on the shadowy streets of Gotham City. I highly recommend this soundtrack.
I would also like to thank Mariska Hargitay, for giving me the idea for this story. No, I don't know Mariska personally. I bought the second season DVD of Law & Order: SVU, and watched an entertaining interview that Mariska gave, where she spoke of how different Olivia Benson is from her previous acting roles. At one point in the interview, she actually referred to Olivia as being a superhero. Having just seen Batman Begins on DVD at that time, I had Batman on the brain, and when Mariska made reference to Olivia as a superhero, my first thought was: she should team up with Batman. I had the title--Batman & Benson--running around in my head for a week before I finally gave in and wrote the story. I can't imagine she would ever have the time in her busy schedule to read this, but I just wanted to say, for the record, thanks for the inspiration, Mariska. :)